Create. Is That All There Is To It?

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I love the 1998 movie, Field of Dreams, which stars Kevin Costner. It has been a long time favorite of mine. It inspires a feeling of hope in me. Even after fourteen years the quote from the movie, ?Build it, and they will come,? often rivets through my mind.

I have a tin ornament that hangs in front of me at my desk that my editor gave me for Christmas this past year. It has a picture painted on it of a lady with curled red hair, red lips, flashy dress and beads around her neck. It?s not really a true replica of me except for the red hair, because there?s not much flash in me. But, the words on the ornament say a lot about who I am. They read, ?create? and ?tell it.?

Our lives are sort of like the saying in that movie. If we don?t build it, or create it, they won?t come. If we never write the story, then there?s nothing for anyone to read. We all have hopes and dreams. Some of our visions are more far-fetched than others. But no matter how old we become we should keep the fires of creativity ignited within ourselves. As a writer I need to put words down on paper. I long to think of plots that have never been written, and put an unexpected twist to the tale.

I just finished a pretty good novel, but it was so predictable. I knew exactly what was going to happen from about a quarter of the way in, all the way to the finish. I suppose some would be disappointed without the expected; boy gets girl ending. I for one know love does not always have a rosy outcome. Life is not a fairy tale with a prince charming waiting to kiss away our tears. Even though I?ve been blessed in that department, it took a long time for my toad to turn into a prince.

One of the great parts of being an author is other writers ask you to read their work. In the past year or so I?ve had the opportunity to read three new manuscripts from locals. One was a how-to book, which was very entertaining because it was filled with humor. The next one was written by an old acquaintance. It was a pretty far out story about UFO?s and microchips implanted into fingers, giving people the capability to transfer themselves anywhere in the world. I?m not into that sort of thing, but here again, many people are. I saw a lot of potential in the man?s story.

This weekend I read another newly written book by a local. This man?s memoirs are hilarious. With all the mishaps he?s encountered in his life it?s a miracle he survived with only one missing toe. The book is really good, and hopefully he?ll find a market for it.

Each of these authors has asked me the same question: I?ve written this book, now what do I do with it? Great question. The first author decided to self-publish his how-to book. The second UFO guy is working with an editor, trying to polish his work and get it ready to send out to publishing companies. The third fellow will soon be stopping by to pick up his manuscript, and what will I tell him? First I?ll say: ?You need an editor.?

No publishing company is going to take any of us seriously if we don?t send them a cleaned up product. It?s sort of like trying to sell a used car. Who wants to buy a vehicle that has visible defects? The windshield is cracked. The back bumper crushed. The battery is dead, and it needs new tires. The same goes for a manuscript. Are you going to send a publisher a story that is filled with mis-spelled words, punctuation errors, and run-on sentences and paragraphs? You might try, but you won?t get very far.

In this competitive business of publishing you have to shine yourself up. Polish the exterior and make sure the guts are running smoothly. A good story is the bottom line, but there are literally thousands of great stories being sent to publishing houses and agents every day. If an editor is turned off right away by errors, then they?ll never wade through the mistakes to read the end. There?s too much competition out there to just write your story and think: Since it?s written, they?ll come. Not going to happen.

Being an author starts with creating. Then, you refine the story. Take it up a notch or two during several re-writes. When you think spell check has caught all your errors you send it to your editor and then she?ll tear it to pieces.

If writing the story was all there was to it, then I?d have at least a dozen written by now. The whole process is time consuming and tedious. You have to have the patience of Job and the skin of an alligator. But there is one thing for sure: If you don?t write it, they won?t come. And if you don?t polish it, then it won?t shine.

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